A week of expenses for a surgeon in Buffalo, NY, earning $490,000

Welcome to the MedPage today “Med Money Journals”, providing readers with insight into the finances of doctors, nurses, medical students, physician assistants, nurse practitioners and others who practice medicine. Each post offers information about a person’s financial history, salaries, and expenses over a 7-day period. Anonymously share your own Med Money Journal.

Use: Plastic surgeon

Age: 34

Location: Buffalo, New York

Salary: $490,000

Net value : $450,000

Debt: $900,000

Amount per paycheque: $11,000 every 2 weeks after taxes

Monthly expenses:

  • Mortgage (PITA): $4,100
  • Children’s education: $3,000
  • Utilities: $200
  • Cars: $400
  • Internet/cable/TV subscriptions: $180
  • Lawn care/snow removal: $100
  • Home cleaning: $200
  • Gym: $100

What was your first job and why did you start working?

I became a cashier at 17. It was at the local grocery store where I also helped retrieve carts from the parking lot. I started working to pay for a car and other expenses.

Do you care about money in your current situation?

Yes, in the sense that I am always aware of it and make sure I stay on track with my financial plan!

What financial tracking or money management/budgeting tools (if any) do you use? Would you recommend them to others?

I use Excel to track my monthly budget. I also use a free online net worth calculator to calculate my net worth every 3-4 months.

Are there any other financial details readers should be aware of?

I own five rental properties that generate about 25% cash flow each month. This means that each rental property provides me with an annual cash flow of 25% of the total initial money I invested in it. This cash flow is money that goes into my pocket after paying the mortgage, taxes, insurance, maintenance, and all other expenses. This cash flow totals about $8,000/month, which I save to buy new properties.

Do you have any comments or thoughts on the current state of compensation for people in your position/profession?

Doctors are paid in the top 1% of everyone in the United States. However, the variability in compensation within specialties at the level of an individual physician is enormous. This is because we as a domain do not help each other by sharing information such as salary and income. This, combined with a lack of financial education, puts us at a disadvantage when negotiating contracts.

7 day diary

Day 1 (Monday)

Total: $97

Today I have an administrative day at the office. In the morning, I eat my usual bowl of cereal and drop my kids off at school. At the hospital, I buy lunch in the cafeteria for $7 between work and meetings. After catching my kids, my wife and I cooked dinner for them using a meal from Home Chef, a meal subscription service that costs $90/week. We then reheat the cooked meals once the kids are in bed for our dinner.

Day 2 (Tuesday)

Total: $95

Today I work all day. I have the same breakfast as yesterday, but unfortunately I don’t have time for lunch and just eat a protein bar. I buy a huge pack of these every month to feed myself on days when a sit-down meal isn’t possible. I bought a new box this week, and the whole box is $20.

Because the day is busier than usual for me and my wife, we take the children to eat at a local restaurant with a large playground outside. Our meals are $30.

During the day, my wife also bought new clothes for our kids for summer camp at Target for a total of $45.

Day 3 (Wednesday)

Total: $7

Another day of exploitation, but this time I can sneak in for lunch in the cafeteria for $7. We cook another Home Chef meal for us and the kids for dinner.

Day 4 (Thursday)

Total: $160

Today is my day at the clinic where I see patients. I have a protein bar for lunch. However, tonight my wife and I have a charity event we are going to. We arranged for a babysitter who we pay $20/hour. The event has a few light bites, but we leave hungry and stop at a Thai restaurant for some real food. It’s a $60 check for drinks, appetizers, and two plates of pad thai. The babysitter costs around $100.

Day 5 (Friday)

Total: $80

I have another OU day but shorter. I end up going home in the early afternoon and have lunch there. Our kids eat the groceries we have at home, but my wife and I order DoorDash sushi for $80. We try to limit delivery of orders, but after a long week I’m too lazy to pick up the food and the $15 delivery charge seems worth it.

Day 6 (Saturday)

Total: $42.50

In the morning, we hang out without the kids because they have late morning football practice. These courses for 2 to 4 year olds cost around $100/season, which lasts 8 weeks. Then we stop at a hot dog stand for lunch, which is $30. In the afternoon, they play outside with friends. My wife and I are cooking our last Home Chef meal of the week for dinner.

Day 7 (Sunday)

Total: $50

Today we have swimming lessons with the kids, which cost $200/month. Then we have a weekly family dinner at my mother’s house.

Total for the week: $531.50. It’s a pretty typical week for us. Of course, there are weeks when unexpected expenses arise, which is why we have our emergency fund. There are also weeks when we may splurge for a certain item or experience after determining that it fits our financial plan and brings us joy greater than its price. But in general, we are thrifty and do not spend too much in our daily life.

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